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Kerry, Edwards Focus on War, Security

As Sen. John Kerry and Sen. John Edwards campaigned in Missouri Thursday, NPR's Steve Inskeep rode along for an up-close look at the Democratic effort to retake the White House.

The candidates sat for a joint interview that focused on the situation in Iraq, security at home, and a recent ad from a Republican group that questions details of Kerry's service in Vietnam.

On Iraq, Kerry lays out his plan to ease U.S. military involvement by increasing international involvement and appointing a high commissioner to act as a liaison with Iraq.

"I believe that within a year from now we can significantly reduce American forces in Iraq," Kerry tells Inskeep.

Edwards adds that Kerry's proposal to create a "fresh start" has the capacity "to convert this from an American occupation to an international presence helping the Iraqis provide for their own security."

"This president rushed to war without a plan to win the peace," Kerry says of his rival for the White House. "He pushed our allies aside. We've lost our credibility with the world. We need to restore that."

On the domestic front, Kerry says flatly: "Homeland security has been neglected by this administration," and says he would change the color-coded system used to alert the nation to terrorist threats. His running mate says most Americans still don't have a clear sense of what to do about that threat.

"We often ask people... what would you do today different than you would have done on Sept. 11," Edwards says. "Without fail the answer is 'I have no idea.' Now, that's a leadership issue."

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Steve Inskeep
Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
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